Ulster will travel to face Harlequins in their first ever Challenge Cup match as they enter the competition at the round of 16 stage.
The winner of this tie will travel and take on either Northampton Saints or Dragons in the quarter finals. Both ties will be played on consecutive weekends with the round of 16 being played on 2-4th April and the quarter final being played on 9-11th April.
Ulster have faced Harlequins four times in the last four years in the Heineken Cup and have recorded wins in all matches.
|16-10-96||European Cup||Ravenhill||Iain Ramage||15||21|
|18-10-08||European Cup||Twickenham Stoop||Tim Hayes||21||42|
|17-1-09||European Cup||Ravenhill||Romain Poite||21||10|
|10-12-17||European Cup||Twickenham Stoop||Pascal Gauzere||17||5|
|15-12-17||European Cup||Ravenhill||Alexandre Ruiz||52||24|
|7-12-19||European Cup||Ravenhill||Mike Adamson||25||24|
|13-12-19||European Cup||Twickenham Stoop||Alexandre Ruiz||34||10|
Harlequins are in a rich vein of form in the Gallagher Premiership having recorded four wins out of their last five matches including a thumping 49-17 against last season’s finalist Wasps at the Ricoh Arena. Only Bristol and Exeter have scored more tries than the west London side while out half Marcus Smith tops the points scoring charts with 155.
South Africa U20 international Tyrone Green is electric on the wing and scored this try against Newcastle Falcons two weeks ago.
Smith, Mike Brown and Alex Dombrandt all feature in the top ten try scorers in the league with only Exeter’s Sam Simmonds scoring more than the number eight. Smith and Dombrandt are heavily touted with England call ups in the near future and I wouldn’t be surprised if both are the next number 1 out half and eight respectively. Their match ups with Billy Burns and Marcell Coetzee are particularly intriguing while destructive centre André Esterhuizen will go head to head with Stuart McCloskey.
Former Ulsterman Brett Herron is currently with Quins and scored the bonus point try, his first, against Northampton Saints last weekend. Current academy player Hayden Hyde is set to join them ahead of next season.
Both Ulster and Harlequins love to attack and there has been no shortage of excitement between the sides in recent matches. Quins are in better shape than previous meetings with Ulster, but this is a match that Dan McFarland‘s side have every chance of winning.
It should be a cracker.